Ayanda, the new film by award-winning director Sara Blecher and produced by Terry Pheto, Busi Sizani and Robbie Thorpe was awarded a “special mention” by the prestigious Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) Jury when the 2015 festival winners were announced, following its screening in the World Fiction Competition.
Ayanda had its world premiere in Los Angeles on 13 June, and debuted to rave reviews. The Examiner said, “The Los Angeles Film Festival’s 2015 mission to find ‘…diverse stories and storytellers … who exhibit true and singular voices’ is fully realized with Ayanda. Shot in South Africa, writer Trish Malone and director Sara Blecher create a vibrant, colorful film about a young woman looking to make her mark in today’s South Africa.”
The film tells the story of a resolute 21-year-old Afro-hipster Ayanda (Fulu Mugovhani), who has a talent for taking neglected pieces of furniture and “bringing them back to love”. Eight years after her father’s death, his prized auto repair garage is in deep debt and in danger of being sold, but Ayanda does everything in her power to hold onto his legacy.
Entertainment blog Indiewire called the film “an important and fascinating piece that is absolutely worth seeing for its representation of a modern African story, which is uniquely, distinctively African, but also urban, fresh, and contemporary in a way that is far too rare. Anchored by a standout performance by the magnetic Fulu Mugovahni, the vibe and milieu of Ayanda is as refreshing as a light summer breeze.”
Culver City Observer named Ayanda a “standout “Must See” in the World Fiction Competition”, and “A beautifully lensed film courtesy of cinematographer Jonathan Kovel…” The review described Trish Malone’s screenplay as a “a nuanced script with strongly detailed characters that come to life through some well oiled, fresh performances,” and said “Fulo Moguvhani is nothing short of luminous in the title role with strong supporting performances.”
The film also stars Nigerian actor OC Ukeje – winner of the 2015 Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Award for Best Actor, Jafta Mamabolo, Nthati Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Sihle Xaba and Vanessa Cooke.
Both Pheto and Blecher were at LAFF to promote the film, a line-up of 74 feature films from around the globe.
“We could not have wished for a better response from a discerning American audience,” says Blecher. “The film was praised for being distinctively African while exploring universal themes of love, friendship and growth. We cannot wait to share the film with South African moviegoers. As a female team, we are proud to have made such a strong and vibrant film about women in contemporary South Africa.”
Ayanda was produced by Real Eyes Films and Leading Lady Productions, with the support of the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), Africa Magic and the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). It will be distributed in South Africa by Helen Kuun of Indigenous Film Distribution.
“The film has an excellent cast and superb production values, as well as a story that is young, fresh and distinctly urban,” says Kuun. “We are excited to bring a creative product of this calibre to the local movie circuit.”
Ayanda will be the opening film at the 36th Durban International Film Festival, taking place from July 16 to 26 this year.
Ayanda releases at cinemas nationally on 02 October 2015.